While digging in Matthew Perkins’ backyard last week in Las Vegas to build a swimming pool, construction workers made an unexpected discovery: bones buried about five feet deep in the ground.
When the foreman arrived a few days later, he came with officers and crime scene investigators from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. They determined the bones were too big to be human and told Mr. Perkins he could do whatever he wanted with them.
“It was a huge shock to us,” said Mr. Perkins, 35, who moved to Las Vegas last year with her husband.
He started calling paleontologists, museums, and universities about the find, but no one answered him. He wasn’t lucky until he contacted 8 News Now Las Vegas, which helped put him in touch with Joshua Bonde, a paleontologist at the Nevada Science Center.
Mr. Bonde visited Mr. Perkins at his home in the northern part of the Las Vegas Valley, and protruding from a dirt wall at the construction site were the bones: a horse’s jawbone, its shoulder blade, his right front leg and hair.
Workers first found one strange bone and teeth, and started digging up more, said Jose Ortega, 44, an excavator. He said he knew they were animal bones, but the discovery was a first for him nonetheless.
“I just thought it wasn’t normal,” he said on Friday.
Excavators must dig another five feet to recover the remaining parts of the animal. The bones will be transported to the science center for cleaning and analysis, and then they will be displayed to the public at the center.
Leaning on the rock below and above the horse, Mr. Bonde estimated the bones to be between 6,000 and 14,000 years old. Two species of horses are believed to have roamed the area, and the bones could be from the Ice Age, a period that began 2.6 million years ago and lasted until around 11,700 years ago. .
The bones were attached which is rare for specimens in the area as there are spring deposits along the valley. As the water flowed through the springs, it moved the bones.
It’s common to find fossils in Nevada, which was a wetland during the Ice Age, Bonde said.
The Tule Springs Fossil Beds, near Mr. Perkins’ home, was established by the National Park Service in 2014 and “is rich in significant Ice Age paleontological resources, including Colombian mammoths, extinct horses, camels. and the bison, and the terrible wolf. , According to its website.
Mr Bonde said he hoped the find would draw more attention to the possibility that others may have fossils in their gardens.
“Fossils don’t care about political boundaries,” he said. “These fossils in the dirt are scattered all over the valley and people have been growing there for decades. It is only a matter of time before we find more. “
While there is a slight delay in construction of the six-foot-deep inground pool as the rest of the fossil is excavated over the next few weeks, Mr Perkins said he was happy to have contacted M Bung.
“I hope this will bring attention to the fact that there are great people ready to work with you and help you in any way they can if you find something like this,” he said. “It can be a great discovery or an incredible story at the end.”